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The first settlement in the region dates back to the Prehistoric Period, in around 3000 BC. The Hittites ruled the region in the 21st century BC, followed by the Phrygians in the 13th century BC. The region was conquered by the Romans in 74 BC.
In Antiquity and for most of the Middle Ages, the town was known as Pylae or Pylai , which is Greek for “gates”, as it was at the start of one of the main routes leading into Asia for whomever crossed the Sea of Marmara from Europe.
In the Byzantine period the town remained of some importance due to its geographic location, and emperors frequently used it as a disembarkation point from Constantinople. Thus Emperor Heraclius landed here in 622, at the beginning of his counter-offensive against the Persians, and Romanos IV Diogenes did the same in 1071, on his way to the Battle of Manzikert. In the 9th century, the town was also the site of one of the beacons that transmitted news from the frontier with the Abbasid Caliphate, and included an imperial hostel for travellers. In the late 10th century, however, Leo of Synada described Pylae as little more than a village, where cattle, horses, pigs and other animals were gathered to be shipped to Constantinople.
The town and the surrounding district were raided by the Seljuk Turks after Manzikert, but soon recovered. In 1147, Greek refugees from Phrygia were settled there. In 1199 charter of privileges to Venetian merchants, it is attested along with neighbouring Pythia Therma as a separate fiscal district (episkepsis), and was a separate province by the time of the Fourth Crusade (1204). Following the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders, Pylae formed part of the Empire of Nicaea, and served as the main port for Nicaea itself. Pylae remained in Byzantine hands until ca. 1302, when Turkish attacks grew in intensity, forcing much of the population to abandon it and seek refuge in the Princes’ Islands.
Shortly after, Yalova was incorporated into the territory of the Ottoman Empire. It was part of Sanjak of Kocaeli and was known as successively “Yalakabad” and “Yalıova”. It was occupied by Greek troops in 5 September 1920 during Turkish War of Independence. During the occupiation, Massacres in Yalova peninsula occurred. Greek troops, who stationed in Adapazarı,Sapanca, Kandıra, İzmit, Karamürsel and Yalova were begun to move initially Bursa, laterly Eskişehir region after Greek defeat atSecond Battle of İnönü for concentrating ones at line of Bursa-Uşak and attacking Turkish ones, which concantrated in Afyonkarahisar, Eskiehir and Kütahya. Turkish troops, who waited beyond Sakarya River, used this opportunity and attacked loosened Greek ones. Adapazarı was liberated in 26 June 1921, İzmit in 28 June 1921 and finally Yalova in 19 July 1921. It was initially county centre in Karamürsel district of Kocaeli Province. It was become district centre in Istanbul Province in 1930 after joining 2 villages from Orhangazi before becoming a province centre in 1995.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk occasionally lived in Yalova in his final years. In one of his speeches he famously said: “Yalova is my city.